For most, choosing dinnerware is a necessity for those setting up a first apartment or a nicety associated with getting married. Bridal registries allow the dream of the fancy, as well as aspirational everyday for Food & Wine menus or takeout, with all the coordinating elements for stellar entertaining.
But so much about tabletop has changed, particularly in the last decade. And it’s not just that so many choices have made it dizzying to narrow down, but lifestyle shifts are influencing the way we set the table.
“There’s a casualization,” says DJ Carey, editorial director for Connecticut Cottages and Living (Connecticut, Hamptons and New York editions). “The latest research shows there is great interest in food and health. More people are enjoying preparing food at home. Kitchens, in general, are getting larger in square footage, often taking (space) from the dining room. These large open plans include areas to entertain.
“Table settings are more relaxed — a mix of everyday china with formal pieces, fun collectibles used as a centerpiece. Glassware follows suit with crystal wine glasses sitting comfortably alongside everyday water glasses. And shapes are being mixed — square plates stacked on circular. There is more whimsy, more fun — and it’s more comfortable and easy to create. Best yet, color is everywhere on the table.”
This is a shift that is pretty consistent with what is happening in home design. Matchy-matchy is not required; in fact, it’s pretty much frowned upon. Mixing it up and layering is cool, just as the hip do with their wardrobes. And even though white and off-white remain a safe and popular go-to, introducing a little color, texture and pattern is gaining momentum. These days, that might extend to glassware and flatware as well.
“The days of matching plates are gone,” says Carey, “and people are enjoying adding fun pieces to their tables. It’s an easy way to change the personality of any table setting.”